How COVID-19 Precautions Are Affecting Magic Kingdom Wait Times

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When Walt Disney World reopened in July of 2020, new precautions were put into place to ensure guest safety aboard its attractions. And as a result of these new protocols and procedures, coupled with the absence of FastPass+, wait times and onboard ride experiences are a little different these days than we’re used to.

For instance, back in the day we never would’ve dreamed that “it’s a small world” would generate higher wait times than its neighbor Peter Pans Flight. So if you’re planning a trip to the most magical place on earth during these unprecedented times, here’s a look at what you can expect aboard select attractions and how new procedures may inflate wait times.

Haunted Mansion

This classic dark ride isn’t only famous for its happy haunts and creepy-cool effects; it’s also famous for its iconic ride vehicles – Doom Buggies.

Doom Buggies operate on an Omnimover system meaning they don’t stop moving. This helps cut down on wait times since they don’t have to stop for guests to board and disembark. However, due to COVID-19 precautions, Haunted Mansion’s wait times may be a little lengthier than what guests might normally expect.

Except during peak times, Doom Buggies between parties are currently left open to allow for social distancing which considerably cuts into the attraction’s capacity and may result in a longer wait than you might expect.

It’s a Small World

On “it’s a small world,” guests embark on a tour around the world aboard where dolls representing different regions from around the globe sing that famous (infamous?) earworm “It’s a Small World (After All)”.

Back in normal times, “it’s a small world” was a high capacity attraction as its boats accommodated large numbers of guests. But much like the Haunted Mansion, COVID-19 precautions have significantly cut into the ride’s capacity and pushed up its wait times.

it’s a small world loading area

If you’re looking to enjoy “it’s a small world,” expect rows left open between parties, reducing boat capacity.

it’s a small world Extended Queue at Rapunzel themed restroom

Jungle Cruise

Jungle Cruise December 5, 2020

The Jungle Cruise is a classic outdoor boat tour down various rivers of the world piloted by pun-loving skippers. During the venture, guests encounter audio-animatronic wildlife, a mysterious temple, and even the eighth wonder of the world!

Unlike other boat ride attractions, guests aboard the Jungle Cruise sit on benches lining the inner perimeter of the boat ride or on a bench in the middle. Because of this arrangement, some guests faced one another during the ride as opposed to sitting in standard rows like Pirates of the Caribbean or “it’s a small world.”

Magic Kingdom Reopening Jungle Cruise Plexiglass Ride Vehicle July 2020

Due to this particular setup, guests aboard the Jungle Cruise these days no longer have the option to sit in the middle; and guests sitting around the perimeter of the boat are separated from other parties by plexiglass partitions.

Of course, this impacts the Jungle Cruise’s already limited capacity. So if you’re wondering why the lines for the Jungle Cruise are extended outside the crew even though the crowds are low at the Magic Kingdom, this is why.

Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean is an indoor boat ride through a variety of incredibly detailed scenes showcasing pirates raiding towns and hunting for Captain Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

Like “it’s a small world,” Pirates of the Caribbean used to be a high capacity boat ride. But just like “it’s a small world,” Pirates keeps guests safe and socially distant by keeping rows empty between parties.

Prince Charming Regal Carrousel

Prince Charming’s Carousel

Prince Charming Regal Carrousel is an original Magic Kingdom opening day attraction from October 1, 1971. Guests ride one of the uniquely designed horses for a gentle spin in the heart of Fantasyland.

Like other attractions that have had to modify for social distancing, Prince Charming Regal Carrousel’s capacity has been reduced and guests are directed to leave rows of horses empty between parties.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is a swinging family coaster in Fantasyland themed after Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Guests board a swinging mine car and are whisked in and out of the charming mine where a million diamonds shine!

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Extended Queue

Ever since the coaster opened in 2014, it has consistently produced some of the highest wait times in the park. And in our current global situation, that hasn’t changed.

However, reduced capacity and the option for period cleaning have made wait times a little less predictable and is responsible for longer-than-normal lines.

Space Mountain

Space Mountain is an indoor, space-themed roller coaster that takes place almost entirely in the dark!

For this Tomorrowland coaster, guests ride in rocket-shaped ride vehicles; but unlike other coasters, guests sit closely in front of one another with three guests per rocket and two connected rockets per launch.

Clearly, Space Mountain was a unique challenge for Disney when it came to social distancing. The solution? Only one party per rocket. This means solo riders will have a whole rocket to themselves. Also, Space Mountain may temporarily halt boardings in order to clean the rockets and their lap bars.

Splash Mountain

Splash Mountain is a massive log flume attraction with dark ride elements. Guests follow Brer Rabbit as he searches for his “laughing place” while outsmarting Brer Fox and Brer Bear along the way!

Private ride on Splash Mountain

Much like what we’ve seen at other attractions, Splash Mountain’s COVID-19 procedures involve leaving rows empty between parties and limiting a row to a single party. However, since each row’s capacity is limited to two adult guests per anyway, this isn’t a huge change.

Attractions You Can’t Experience Due to COVID-19 Precautions

Even though Walt Disney World reopened in July of 2020, there are some attractions that have yet to reopen due to COVID-19 precautions, updates and refurbishments, or construction.

So if you’re headed to Walt Disney World in the near future, be aware that the following rides may not be available: Enchanted Tales with Belle,  Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, Tommorowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, and the Walt Disney World Railroad.

So are you planning a trip to Walt Disney World in the near future? Concerned about the unpredictable wait times? Let us know and be sure to check out the Touring Plans Lines 2.0 app to save time in line and for attraction info at your fingertips.

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Savannah Sanders

Savannah has been visiting Disney World since she was a year old and has gone back almost every year since. In the real world, she teaches high school history and government and enjoys writing about all things Disney. Savannah can be reached on Twitter @DisneyParkSavvy.

9 thoughts on “How COVID-19 Precautions Are Affecting Magic Kingdom Wait Times

  • February 10, 2021 at 8:03 pm
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    I guess I haven’t noticed that Laugh Floor has been closed this entire time. Why would that be? I would think they could space people out like they do in the 4D theater attractions that are still open around the resort. What am I missing?

    Reply
  • February 11, 2021 at 9:39 am
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    Rides down for indeterminate, yet always extended, amounts of time. Long lines. Perks eliminated. Monorail lines shut down. Parades, after-hours events, restaurants and fireworks cancelled. The more of these articles I read, the more I realize it will probably be 2023 or later before I go back.

    Depressing to read, but these articles are certainly saving me the money and disappointment of going to Disney and paying way too much for way too little. Maybe by then some feeble attempt will have been made to reinflate the bubble, but I’m not holding my breath (behind my double-ply mask of course) on that.

    Reply
  • February 11, 2021 at 2:25 pm
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    I would always get fastpass for the longer queue rides as I can’t stand making lines. Since they did away with that, it has been unbearable being in these long lines with people behind you forgetting to social distance. These long lines are completely unnecessary. Everything should simply be a virtual queue. Disney already has a fastpass infrastructure. Just make every ride, fastpass only. If you want to be able to get into the line, you must have a fastpass appointment. This would allow everyone to spreadout and enjoy the open areas while it is not there turn to ride rather than stand for hours in these lines. You are already allowed to get another fastpass after you use the 3 you reserve ahead of time. You want to ride, you get on your phone or at a kiosk and you choose the rides that are available. No more long crowded lines. It is 2021, everything should be a virtual queue by now.

    Reply
  • February 11, 2021 at 3:12 pm
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    Mario, if people are not standing in lines, then where are they standing? With your plan of 100% virtual queues, they will start congregating in other areas, areas that are even less easy to maintain social distancing because there will be no queue switchback to place plexiglass to help maintain social distancing. They will gather in the stores and shops, some of which are small and can only hold so many people. So people will have to line up outside of stores to get into those stores while they wait for their fastpass time for attractions.

    I think if the Buccaneers Super Bowl non-parade at Disney taught us anything, it is that Disney is doing a fantastic job considering how things could have been handled (Monday excluded, of course).

    Reply
  • February 12, 2021 at 12:44 pm
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    I appreciate the summary but wonder if these observations of longer lines are consistent with what you predict will happen. I’m having trouble integrating this information with what Plans predicts my waits on March 3rd will be. For example looking at the lines app now – MK is at 2- it says Jungle cruise will be about 30 min mid day- and now at 50. But when I make my plan for March 3 (MK is at 3) Plans predicts only 17 min wait for Jungle cruise at 1:50. This isn’t just Jungle cruise as Haunted Mansion is predicted 5 min wait all afternoon, but this afternoon with a less crowded park it is predicted to be 20 min and is currently 25 (posted 40). My window is great at predicting current weather :). Is that where we are at now for predicting lines?

    Reply
  • February 14, 2021 at 4:43 pm
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    I have the same questions/concerns. We have always used Toiring Plans and Fastpasses, and have been successful in not waiting in lines. We have a trip planned in April (it was supposed to happen last April), and I just feel like we’re going in with any idea of what it will really be like, except that we know as of right now there are no Fastpasses.

    Are the Touring plans using current data to optimize or is it still using pre-Covid data?

    Reply
  • February 14, 2021 at 4:48 pm
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    All of the wait time data is post-COVID, and is updated daily. We’ve tested all of the major touring plans in all four parks several times each, too.

    Reply
  • February 14, 2021 at 8:19 pm
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    Thanks so much for clarifying the data! At least it gives us something solid to go by then!

    Reply

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